‘The Veil’ unravels despite the hook of Elisabeth Moss in spy mode

May 13, 2024 3:29 pm

[Source: CNN Entertainment]

Despite her commitment to “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Elisabeth Moss has kept busy in movies and limited series, including “Shining Girls” and now “The Veil,” a disjointed spy thriller for Hulu.

Adopting a British accent, Moss sinks her teeth into the role of an MI6 agent, but her cat-and-mouse game with a suspected terrorist gradually unravels after a reasonably compelling start.

The six-episode show opens at a refugee camp on the Syrian/Turkish border, where Adilah (Yumna Marwan) has sought refuge.

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But is she actually an ISIS mastermind, one with valuable information about a pending terror attack? Determining that falls to Imogen (Moss), who, as a French agent observes, will get to the bottom of things if anyone can.

Not surprisingly, the high stakes draw plenty of attention, not only from French authorities but a CIA agent (Josh Charles) who parachutes in and tries to exert control over the chaotic situation, like the proverbial American bull in an international china shop.

Written by Steven Knight, a British writer-producer best known stateside for “Peaky Blinders” (but also behind the more recent disappointments “Great Expectations” and “All the Light We Cannot See”), “The Veil” has some fun playing with spy conventions.

That includes the hostile interactions between Charles’ character and his French counterpart (Dali Benssalah), which even results in a rather hilariously bad shoving match.

Unfortunately, the show keeps drifting into cliches of the genre, from Adilah’s motivations to be reunited with her child to Imogen being haunted by her past, which dilutes the taut interaction between the two principals as the agent tries to penetrate her target’s protective shell in those opening chapters.

Nobody pulls off glowering stares and quiet intensity quite like Moss does, and she appears to relish this opportunity to shapeshift into what amounts to sort of a modern-day Emma Peel, including boots and butt kicking, perhaps in part because she’s not an obvious choice for that assignment.

That said, she’s likely having a better time than you will, and once you get past the initial novelty the show feels at best like a middle-of-the-road addition to a long list of espionage-related series.

In that sense, “The Veil” is at least aptly named. Because while it begins by delicately hiding its mystery, the longer the story tugs at that, the less its wispy premise holds together.

“The Veil” premieres April 30 on Hulu.